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That’s not a word!

That’s not a word! published on 2 Comments on That’s not a word!

You know what really pisses me off? When I’m reading an otherwise cogent, insightful and pretty well-written work on the philosophy of Victorian corsets [‘Hooked and Buttoned Together:’ Victorian Underwear and Representations of the Female Body, Casey Finch, Victorian Studies 34(3):337-363], and the author pulls a sentence like this out of his/her ass:

The ideology of reproduction was troped into a system of erotics where the meaning of sexuality operated not as a public “fact” but as a private secret.

TROPE is not a verb! It’s a noun, a pretty obscure noun, unless you live in the rarefied atmosphere of the academy. Bloody hell, people! “System of erotics” is just as bad. What is a “system of erotics?” Nobody knows! How am I supposed to enjoy my history of underwear if you keep making up jargon-laced sentences that don’t actually mean anything?!

Why not write something like this:

Erotic images centered around women’s reproductive capacities and visible sexual signs slowly changed into a set of erotic ideas about sexuality as dissociated from public reproduction and thus secret and hidden.

Sure, my version definitely has more words in it, but it’s much more readable, especially if you stopped living in an English department upon graduation.

Histories of underwear should be lucid, limpid, lively, highly illustrated and see-through, not complicated, obscure and difficult to undo.

P.S. And, if you’re going to use “trope” as a verb, don’t use it twice within 4 pages! Bad form, as Captain Hook would say.


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